Kids, dads, even great-grands help to find their luck in stocked creek

LYNDEN ­— Dozens of 5- to 7-year-old kids with fishing poles in hand line the bank of Fishtrap Creek that snakes through Lynden City Park on Saturday morning.

Jeff Price of the Lynden Camels Club counts down from 10 with a microphone as a hushed silence spreads across the park. As Price calls out number one, monofilament lines fly across the water in every direction as children hope to hook one of 900 to 1,000 trout that were transplanted into the creek for this 78th annual Camels Club youth fishing derby.

With a thick cloud cover overhead, everyone is jockeying to land the first fish in case the weather turns worse. Pandemonium erupts as the first hooked fish breaks surface and tosses water into the air. Cheyenne Walser and Mason Ryker catch the first girls’ and boys’ fish, respectively, and they sprint over to the judges’ table with their haul.

Before long, many more kids with big smiles across their faces are running with their parents in excitement toward the central table with various sizes of trout in their dip nets and buckets.

The judges take a quick photo, clip the trout’s tail and then write the child’s name. Afterwards family members and spectators take photos of the kids holding their prized fish.

Fishing derby 2

Five-year-old Conrad Vanderhage, left, and his dad, Henry Vanderhage, show off Conrad’s catch, a triploid trout of more than 10 pounds, at the youth fishing derby on Saturday. (Eric Trent/Lynden Tribune)

Five-year-old Conrad Vanderhage caught one of the largest fish of the day, a bulky triploid of at least 10 pounds. Triploids are sterile trout that won’t breed with native stock. 

This is Conrad’s first time fishing in this derby and trout are his second-favorite fish to catch, with lingcod being his favorite, he says. His father, Henry Vanderhage, takes him saltwater boat fishing often.

For siblings Jackson and Savannah Viola, this is their first time fishing ever. Their debut into the sport couldn’t have ended any better, as the pair each caught their two-fish limit. Savannah said her favorite part of fishing is “catching them.”

the derby, for 5- to 13-year-olds, lasted a little over two hours on Saturday, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The youngest kids fished first, then the 8- to 10-year-olds, then the oldest. By state law, only these ages of kids may fish in this stretch of Fishtrap Creek.

In all, 233 kids caught more than 400 fish in the derby.


Maycee, who competed in the 5- to 7-year-old age group, shown here with the first trout she caught at the Camels Club youth fishing derby on Saturday at Lynden City Park. (Eric Trent/Lynden Tribune)

The Camels Club, now with 20-30 Lynden business sponsors, started this popular event in 1941 and has done it continuously every year since 1946.

“The founders of the Camels Club thought it was a good thing getting kids participating in fishing, showing good sportsmanship and enjoying this beautiful park that we have here in Lynden,” Price said. “It’s been going a long time and we’re just proud to keep the tradition going.”

This year also happens to be the Camels’ 90th anniversary. The club was begun on April 14, 1929, by eight Lynden residents.

“This has been going so long that we have great-grandparents bringing great-grandkids, and the great-grandparents fished in this derby,” Price said. “It’s been going a long time and they’re sharing the tradition. It’s all good sportsmanship, people having fun, and they’re outside enjoying the weather.”

Here are this year's prize winners:

5- to 7-year-olds     
1st Fish Cheyenne Walser Mason Ryker 
2nd Fish Brayleen Jackson Dylan Roberts 
3rd Fish Holly Wilmore Kruze Van Dalen 
1st Limit Aubre Crydlskey Bryce Roberts 
2nd Limit Casyn Mulder Riley Loomer 
3rd Limit Emily Outlaw Kane Boatwright 
8- to 10-year-olds     
1st Fish Josy Van Coreach Declan Seigman 
2nd Fish Lily Lohrer Suylas Tijerina 
3rd Fish Coralee Demeyer Alex Cardona 
1st limit Jacalyn Bartlett Yanni Koldert 
2nd Limit Sydney Bode Tucker Kolling 
3rd Limit Alisa Libolt Julian Arevalo 
11- to 13-year-olds     
1st Fish Dianelle Ray Will Lowe 
2nd Fish Kylie Likkel Luke Van Kooten 
3rd Fish Julia Chao N/A 
1st Limit Allyson Bartlett Oleg Kasko 
2nd Limit Kayla Chao Dennis Katsyuba 
3rd Limit Olivia Scott Carter Walser

Eric Trent covers sports for the Lynden Tribune.